By Olayinka Olawale
Lagos, Dec. 4, 2020 The Lagos State Government says it will increase fish production by at least 60,000 metric tons to bridge the huge deficit in the sector and meet the state’s demand for fish.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said this at a news conference on Thursday in Lagos to unveil the forthcoming Lagos Seafood Festival scheduled for Dec. 13, at Muri Okunola Park, Lagos.
Olusanya said that the state was currently producing about 174,000 metric tons of fish annually, while the current demand stood at over 400,000 metric tons, hence the need to address the huge deficit of over 226,000 metric tons.
She said that the additional 60,000 metric tons of fish would include both fingerlings and table size production to what already exist in Lagos.
“The target in terms of production currently is to increase our production in the post COVID-19 economy.
“The demand for fish in Lagos is well over 400,000 metric tons and what we are producing as a state is roughly at about 174,000 metric tons, so there is a huge deficit of about 226,000 metric tons.
“In terms of the target, we just ended our five-year master plan roadmap strategy document which will be unveiled by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the plan is to cover the deficit by a certain percentage.
“Already, the Lagos Aquaculture Centre for Excellence, which was mentioned during Mr Governor’s budget reading, states that for the project alone, we should be adding over 60,000 metric tons of fish, both fingerlings and table size production to what exists already in Lagos.
“Outside of what we want to do with our fisher-folks in terms of them increasing production and aquaculture producers as well in terms of the support, we will like to give to them and create additional farm estates.
“We should be able to increase our fish production by at least 50,000 to 60,000 metric tons in year 2021,” she said.
Olusanya said that with additional production from the Lagos Aquaculture Centre (LACE), the state would produce over 60,000 metric tons of fish over a period of time which would be produced by registered fishermen, artisanal fishermen and the Lagos aquaculture centre.
“For the LACE alone, it should be over 60,000 metric tons; that is obviously over a two to three-year period for the project to fully come to life. Within the first year, we should be able to get 20,000 metric tons.
“From our fishermen and those in the aquaculture subsector, we should be able to get a minimum of 40,000 metric tons extra, so we are looking towards an additional 60,000 metric tons for 2021 and subsequent years,” she said.
The Commissioner also said that the state had commenced the registration of fishermen in the five divisions of the state to capture the youths, adding that the target was to register over 10,000 in the process.
“As we speak, we have partnered with some Private Financial Institutions and right now registrations are ongoing in some fishing locations in the five divisions of the state such as Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Lagos Island and Ikeja.
“Presently, the private financial institution is registering youths in Ikeja, we are concentrating on the youth because they will take over from the ageing fisher-folks who don’t have records and details that we can trace back to them in terms of capturing and empowerment,” Olusanya noted.
The commissioner said the 2020 edition of the seafood festival would focus on the need to harness the seafood potentials of the state in a post COVID-19 economy.
She added that synergic relationships for the overall development of the seafood subsector would be initiated with fisher-folks for regular supply of fish and fisheries products during and after the festival.
“Lagos State is a cosmopolitan city that is synonymous with seafood production. This fact is reinforced by the depiction of fishing in the state’s Coat of Arms.
“This activity is an old time preoccupation of Lagosians, especially those living around the coastal, estuaries and riverine areas of the state.
“A total of 8,844 registered fishermen in 164 Fishermen Cooperative Societies live in 325 fishing communities across the state, while 3,600 fish farmers and 26,500 processors have been identified in the value chain.
“The state is also home to 60 per cent of the nation’s commercial activities mixed with fashion and entertainment.
“The Lagos seafood festival provides the nexus for the celebration of the state’s aquacultural heritage in an atmosphere of commerce and entertainment,” the commissioner noted.
Olusanya said that the celebration of the Lagos seafood festival started in 2012 with the aim of showcasing Lagos aquaculture and seafood potentials to the local and international markets as well as stimulate investors’ interest in the fisheries business.
She stated that the festival was projected to create 150 direct and indirect jobs as a result of increased marketing opportunities, setup and dismantling of equipment for the festival, technicians to operate equipment and other hands engaged to provide support services.
She noted that 30 fishermen groups, processors and 10 vendors are expected to take part in the festival in compliance with the social distancing protocols.